George Clooney's gun-running thriller The American is a near-total misfire 

Idiot American

Idiot American

A paper-thin trifle — but stridently self-serious all the same — The American plays like some Hollywood executive's negative projection of an art film: "What do those movies look like that I never go see, don't like to make, and never bring in any money?" The answers, apparently, include thuddingly obvious symbolism (butterflies!), copious Euro-nudity, scenic vistas worthy of the Travel Channel, and George Clooney endlessly glowering as Jack, a.k.a. Edward, a covert arms supplier stationed in Europe whose shady handler (Johan Leysen) sets him up with One Last Job.

Director Anton Corbijn (Control) hedges his bets at every turn. Scenes of Jack's patient, solitary craftsmanship outfitting rifles or building silencers are by far the most interesting parts of the film — but who wants to watch George Clooney perform metalwork? Nobody, guesses Team American. So these scenes are constantly interrupted by close-ups of the intense Clooney mug (star power!), saddled (like the rest of the movie) with an overbearing instrumental score by German superstar Herbert Grönemeyer. The film's one bright spot is Italian actress Violante Placido, holding her own versus Clooney in the severely underwritten role of a hooker with the requisite cuore d'oro.

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